Owego Free Academy

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources

Our PLC Journey

The Owego Apalachin Central School District is committed to the mission of “challenging students, within a caring environment, to become confident, contributing citizens with a lifetime thirst for learning”.  The PLC at Work process has allowed us to carry this mission forward with a collaborative intensity that we have never before experienced. Our staff is committed to making sure that all students are challenged and are learning at their full capacity through hands-on, engaging, capacity- building activities.  Our high school staff has been “learning by doing” as we have moved through the PLC journey for the past five years.

Year One:  2014-2015

Our high school (Owego Free Academy - OFA) was the first school in our district to begin assembling the building blocks of a PLC.  We began collecting data on student achievement on a regular basis and began using it to inform instruction and intervention. Teachers began working together in teams to determine what students needed to know and do, how we could determine if each student has learned it, how we would respond if students didn’t learn it, and how we could extend learning for those who were already proficient.  

Year Two: 2015-2016

This year OFA introduced LINK, a voluntary, team based, after-school AIS program in the four core content subjects and Special Education.  It was offered four days a week for an hour with transportation provided. In addition, a 9th grade Academy was started which offered intensive intervention in the four content areas with a team of teachers helping students one period each day to accelerate learning.

Year Three: 2016-2017  

 Our main goal this year was to get teachers collaborating in the entire district, not just the high school.  Our new Superintendent, Corey Green, had experienced Professional Learning Communities at his previous district, and was eager to establish them in ours.  We recognized a teacher from each team who was determined to help create a system and process to ensure learning for all, and made them data facilitators. We trained administrators and these teacher leaders in the process we hoped to follow, and determined what we would be tight or loose about as a district.  We introduced the idea of Professional Learning Communities to teachers and let them learn about culture and collaboration from some of the experts- Anthony Muhammed and Laurie Robinson-Sammons, Solution Tree consultants. Teacher teams created norms to follow at their PLC meetings and also began the process of creating SMART goals and common quarterly assessments.   Blueprints were developed which gave teachers a format for documenting their curriculum.

Year Four: 2017-2018

Our main goal this year was to be sure we had strong structures in place that would support our work in Professional Learning Communities.  We continued to learn with Laurie Robinson Sammons who tailored her various presentations for administrators and teachers. We felt that it was important that all of our administrators be strong instructional leaders so administrators attended trainings offered through our local BOCES that brought administrators from our region’s districts together for professional learning about PLC’s.  We created time for teachers to meet with their teams and with other teams on a daily basis. We were tight about them meeting three out of 6 days in their cycle. Schedules became more important than ever and teachers began to see true value in their collaborative time with their teams as well as time with students to intervene or extend learning. In addition to common quarterly assessments, teachers were now creating common formative assessments (check-ins) that they gave to students at least every two weeks.  Blueprints were revised as needed.

Year Five: 2018-2019

This year was all about responding appropriately to students so that all students were continuously learning.  We created a common Intervention/Extended Learning time in all buildings called GOAL time - Grade- level Opportunities to Accelerate Learning.  Each grade or subject area had a 30 minute daily block of time when teachers could intervene with students who were having trouble learning, extend the learning of those students who already demonstrated proficiency and give additional practice time to those students who just needed a little confidence boost.  All teachers met during their 30 minute PLC meeting times to discuss what these learning opportunities would look like, what students might be shared so that experts were addressing particular student needs, and how student progress would be assessed. These PLC meetings were facilitated by our PLC Leads (formerly called data facilitators) who received training in working with PLC teams from Jason Andrews of Solution Tree.

Facilitating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

There are many ways we are facilitating a culture of continuous improvement.  Collaboration is key. Our teachers and staff are working together in teams like they have never done before. We have provided them with time to collaborate - during planning time, lunch, and also during PLC time.  Some teams take advantage of all of these times to work together because there is a cultural shift taking place. Teachers see the value of interdependence and learning collectively by working together.  

Our high school and middle school have common GOAL times. This allows teachers the potential opportunity to share students within and between grade levels thus assuring that all students will be getting what they need.  This includes purposefully extending learning for those students who would benefit. Student learning is at the heart of the schools and the four questions of a PLC are driving our teaching.  

Advanced class enrollment has doubled in recent years with continued good performance.  This has allowed more students higher- level opportunities. Honors classes and AP classes have also increased.  

Our district has also implemented College and Career Pathways, a STEAM Academy, and Internships.  These are all extensions of the idea that “all means all”. High school students are given many choices and opportunities to demonstrate evidence of their learning.  They know that if something is difficult for them to learn, they will have access to expert teachers and a STEAM and Co-op team who want to help them succeed.  

Through professional learning sessions, teachers worked together as a district Professional Learning Community (K-12) to come up with the top 10 essential learning skills that they felt students would need when they graduated to ensure their success in college, careers and life.  In addition, all grade levels and subject areas dug deeper into their individual standards to revise their power standards and blueprints. We continued to expand our learning with Solution Tree’s Tim Brown who spoke about RTI and modeled collaboration. Faculty all read the book Simplifying Response to Intervention and discussed it and have it as a resource.  In addition, staff were encouraged to follow the practices of the growth mindset and to model and praise effort.  Teachers also wanted more opportunities to watch and learn from one another so we implemented Praise Walks (Educational Leadership, Nov. 2018 Vol. 76 Number 3 - Barb Philips).  Through Praise Walks, we opened the doors to further collaboration between buildings and grade levels. Teachers could see good things going on in other classrooms and replicate it in theirs.                     

Systems are also in place to help create a culture of continuous improvement.  Teachers have regular PLC meetings where they analyze data, set student learning and achievement goals, identify essential learning skills, develop common formative assessments and common benchmark assessments, share teaching strategies, and research and implement best practices.  These meetings have agreed- upon norms to foster good use of time. Teachers have Google Drives where they store their assessment data so it is usable to them and to others. Our teachers also use blueprints they have developed to document their curriculum. In a district PLC handbook there are also Instructional Guidelines which exemplify good classroom instruction in the areas of setting instructional outcomes, creating a culture for learning, communicating and questioning, and checking for understanding.  With many of our teachers developing a growth mindset themselves, there is the understanding that we are in a cycle of continuous improvement and that our efforts will be instrumental in assuring student success.                                  


1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Our school has created and implemented a guaranteed and viable curriculum focused on student learning. Our teachers have worked with their teammates to determine essential learning skills, power standards in their subject area, pacing, appropriate benchmark assessments, common formative assessments (check-ins), interventions and extended learning opportunities.  Teachers have also collaborated with other grade levels and subject areas to ensure sequencing and vertical alignment of skills, vocabulary, and content.  

Blueprints are created collaboratively so that if a teacher should need to be changed for whatever reason, there is a well-developed, living document  that a substitute or another teacher could use as a guide to the curriculum. Also, if more than one teacher is teaching a course, they will both be using their team-created blueprint that guarantees unit by unit the skills, knowledge, and behaviors every student must achieve to be successful in the course. 

Curriculum work is done on an on-going basis at regularly scheduled PLC meetings throughout the year as well as in the summer when teams are given time to collaborate and revise curriculum, assessments, check-ins, etc.  It is a never- ending process of continual improvement.  

Student learning is monitored in a variety of ways.  Teachers use formative assessments on a regular basis as part of their daily teaching to both inform their teaching and to let students know how they are progressing. Teachers also collaboratively plan for common formative assessments (check-ins) at least every two weeks to help determine which students are learning what is being taught and which students might need additional help or enrichment. These check-ins are planned for and documented on their blueprints.  In addition, most teachers check in with students on a daily basis as well, noting students who need support as well as those who need for their learning to be extended. These check-ins might be in the form of bellringers, exit tickets, quick-writes, answering questions via technology, verbal answers, demonstration, etc. There is no limit to the creativity our teachers have shown in determining how they know if students have learned what they have taught.  

In addition, students are given quarterly benchmark assessments to assess the units that have been taught each quarter.  These assessments are created collaboratively with each team and are revised as needed. Assessments are based on state standards, power standards that the team has determined, and essential learning skills that our entire district has determined.  Depending on the subject, the quarterly assessment can have a variety of formats, but as a district, we are trying to get away from just multiple choice which focuses on memorization rather than real thinking and problem solving. When considering the 4 big questions of a PLC, teachers will base them on the power standards and will consider the depth of knowledge and complexity of each standard so that students are always learning at the highest level possible.  


2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

Our high school has implemented and continues to perfect several means of intervening with students as well as a variety of ways to extend their learning.  We have GOAL time (Grade Level Opportunities to Accelerate Learning), regular in-school Academies where teachers intervene with students, and a LINK after-school program as well- although our LINK program is phasing out due to the effectiveness of the other interventions.  Achievement Academy, which is on-line, and standard AIS for those not passing state mandated assessments are also options.  

During GOAL time, the entire high school building has a common time every day when teachers can request to meet with students, and at the high school level, when students can also request to meet with teachers.  E-hall passes are used so that students can move from place to place and still be accounted for. It is a time for classroom and AIS teachers to provide intervention as determined by data that has been analyzed at PLC time.  It is also a time for teachers to help students reach their goals. During this time, some students may be working with teachers because they did not learn what was taught. Others may just be getting a little more practice on something that was newly learned.  Still others might be extending their learning through a project, technology, STEAM activities, research, additional reading or writing, a book club, etc. We also offer enrichment courses after school and throughout the summer in a variety of areas including athletics and music as well as academic areas.   

The Academies started with 9th grade in 2014-2015.  This was an innovative intervention designed to create a team- teacher approach to working with at-risk students who would normally be place into a traditional AIS setting.  It was proposed by a school PLC Lead Teacher through collaboration with the 9th Grade Academy action research group. 

This year the Academy strategy will expand to include grades 7-10.  Each grade level will have a common period every day where a team of teachers work with students needing intensive, targeted Academic Intervention Services.  This is in addition to the GOAL time period.

For those students not passing the Regents (NYS mandated state tests at the high school level), an option is standard AIS with an AIS teacher who will help them prepare to take the Regents again.  

Achievement Academy is another alternative for those not passing the Regents or for those who need to recover from failing a course or a marking period. This is facilitated by a full-time teacher where targeted AIS is provided through on-line learning videos.  Students must pass an assessment before moving on to another topic. The coursework can be done at home, but the assessments must be done at the Achievement Academy.  

The LINK program will be phasing out this year due to the success of the interventions listed above. This was a voluntary after-school intervention for the four core subject areas as well as Special Education.  All students are getting what they need through the interventions and extended learning options listed above.   


3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

Our teachers in our high school have been working together on teams for the past six years.  They collaborate regularly at daily PLC meetings. They discuss curriculum and instruction, data which has been collected and analyzed, criteria for success, goal setting, assessment - both formative and summative, differentiation, interventions, extended learning, celebrating, co-teaching, best practices, etc.  District-wide instructional guidelines are in place that guide teachers in the areas of setting instructional outcomes, creating a culture for learning, communication and questioning, and checking for understanding.  

All teams have team norms which they have established together.  Most team norms include procedures to be followed, expectations of team members, and what to do if team norms are not followed.  Some underlying district expectations are that teams will work collaboratively, data will be analyzed and used, and that ALL students will be considered in answering the four questions of a PLC.  

Teams collect student achievement data on a Google form and save it in a file that they can all access as well as administrators.  This means that it is easy to view students’ information and check on their progress. Teams can indicate on the form if students are above, at, or below expectations.  They can then use this form to help determine interventions and group students appropriately. Whether a student needs targeted intervention, additional practice, or extended learning, they will receive it based on the data collected from check-ins and from benchmark assessments.    

Teacher teams not only work with their own grade-specific or subject-specific team, they also collaborate with AIS teachers, Special Education teachers, and teachers at adjacent grade levels.  There are PLC meetings specifically designated for such collaborations. At the meetings with adjacent grade levels, teachers can check on vertical alignment of curriculum, vocabulary, skills, and expectations.  Our Special Education teachers often co-teach with classroom teachers so they are able to have a specific time to meet and discuss lessons, differentiation, and student progress without having to do it on the fly.  

In addition to collaboration within and between teacher teams, our high school also sees the value in collaboration with the outside community and professional groups.  Here is a list of their collaborative efforts:

  • Solution Tree presentations

  • Internships with Lockheed Martin

  • Ti-Ahwaga Theater

  • Binghamton Community Orchestra

  • Binghamton University Wind Ensemble

  • Special Olympics

  • Unified Sports

  • Binghamton University - guest speakers and presenters

  • High school mentors for our elementary students

  • BOCES - PLC’s for administrators

  • Combined Superintendent’s Days with Windsor Central School District (a model PLC School)

  • Visions Federal Credit Union - office in HS run by students

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension

  • Tioga Rural Ministries

  • Art exhibits in the community

  • Donated 100 pieces of art ot Tioga Arts Council for fundraiser

  • Distance Learning with Spencer Van Etten School District

At Owego Apalachin we understand that collaboration is key in a PLC.


Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Our state assessment data continues to improve overall.   The Owego Apalachin (OA) district is competitive with schools in our region and in the state, usually scoring higher than the state average.  In Tioga County, we consistently outscore our neighboring districts.  NYS has continued to raise the bar on its assessments and Owego Apalachin has continued to perform well.  There are so many supports in place for students that there is really no reason anyone should fail.

We are especially proud of our graduation rate of 94% this year.  It is the highest it has ever been!  Students want to come to school and take part in all that our high school has to offer.  

List of all Enrichment Classes offered in the district after school:


OES Hummingbird Robotics


OES Cool Tools 


OES Cool Tools Jr.


OES Rock Band




OES KidArtLit


OES Ocean Adventure


OES Kid News


OES Animated Video


OES Astronomy


OES Colorguard


OES Design Code


OES 5th Grade Chimers


OES 4th Grade Chimers


OES Design Code 2


OES Jazz Band


OES KidArtLit


OES Jazz Band


OES Science Fun!




OFA Mindfulness & Meditation


OFA Chamber Singers Mini Camp


OFA Freshmen Academy Mentor Prog.


OFA Historical Mapping of Owego


OFA Chamber Singers Fall


OFA Chamber Singers Spring




OFA MTB Spring


OFA Screen Printing


OFA YesLeads


OFA Pep Band to SU


OFA Fly Fishing/Owego Creek


OAMS Math 7A


OAMS Rock Band


OAMS Algebra I CC - Brainard


OAMS Algebra I CC - Tobey


OAMS Peer Leadership Program


OAMS Book Club


OAMS Creative Writing Workshop


OAMS 6th Gr. Select Chorus


OAMS African Drumming


OAMS Algebra Brainard


OAMS Algebra Tobey


OAMS Chorus Honors Hour - Fall


OAMS Chorus Honors Hour -Spring


OAMS Inst. Honors Hour - Fall


OAMS Coding/Robotics


OAMS Creative Writing   










OAMS Fall Genius Hour


OAMS Math 8


OAMS The Possibilities Rock Band


OAMS Peer Leadership  


OAMS Robotics Fall


OAMS/Dist Aquaponics


OAMS Genius Winter Hour


OAMS Robotics Spring


OAMS/OFA Music Production Club


OAMS/Dist Aquaponics


OAMS Math Enrichment


OAMS Citizen Science Club


OAMS STEAM Success with Vex IQ Robots


OAMS Personal Website/Blog Dev.


DIST - Summer Lessons/Camp(Williams)


DIST - Summer Lessons/Camp(Burrell)


DIST - Elementary Summer Band


DIST - Chamber Music Fall


DIST - Chamber Music Spring


DIST - Tech Suite


DIST - Tech Suite




DIST - Creating Electronic Music


AES Mad Scientists


AES Ready, Set, Drone Camp


AES Golf Club


AES Garden Club


AES 5th Grade Rock Band


AES Board Game Geeks


AES Board Game Geeks 2


AES Elementary Ceramics


AES Climbing Wall


AES Green Team


AES Keyboarding Plus


AES Ceramics


AES Think Team


AES Talent Show


AES Move It!


AES Green Thumb Group


AES Keyboard Camp


History of Sports/Games (Elem)


Games and More Camp (Elem)


Outdoor Adventure Camp (Elem)


Softball Skills and Performance


Summer Sports Camp (Elem)


Boys Youth Lacrosse Camp


Owego Fit


Youth Football Camp


Youth Field Hockey


Girls Basketball Skills Academy


Swim Program


Youth Volleyball


Tennis Camp


Wrestling Philosophy/Technique


Wrestling Camp


Summer Strength/Conditioning


Pee Wee Basketball


Unified Sports


Swim Program


Year Round Racquet Sports


Spring Strength


Winter Strength

OFA Awards:

  • Owego Apalachin Central School District has been ranked 30th of the of the top 50 school districts with the best teachers in upstate NY from Niche.com.  They use data about student achievement, parent/student surveys, teacher salaries, absenteeism, tenure, and other factors.  See methodology used in "Resources"
  • NYS Rewards School 16-17 based on Achievement

  • Literary Club received a National Board recognition from NCTE for “The Minds’ I” Magazine 

  • Gold medal Scholastic Art award

  • Agriculture grant received

  • WBNG Teacher of the Month - recognized as outstanding Yorkers advisor - won state championship- Holly Greenman

  • NYS Master Teacher recipient- Barb Melby

  • National Board Certification - Tonya Alexandra

  • All State Instrumental Music Students  - 6 Owego Apalachin students performed with NY All State ensembles - the most in OA history

  • Chamber Singers were selected to perform at the Capitol for Music in our Schools month

  • OFA junior, Ashleigh Allen, performed with the National Association for Music Education All Eastern 

  • Created a music technology component to the music department this year.  Students have access to creating music with some software and state of the art hardware that is used by professionals in the music industry

  • OFA named as NYSPHSAA (NYS Public High School Athletic Association) School of Excellence.  75% of Varsity Team students had GPA of 90 or better

  • Section Championships in Volleyball, Boys Cross Country, Boys Basketball, Boys Lacrosse, Unified Basketball